Cypriano de Rore

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Cypriano de Rore or Cipriano de Rore (1515 or 1516 – 11 to 20 September 1565) was a Flemish composer and teacher. He was a central representative of the generation of Franco-Flemish / Netherlandish composers after Josquin who went to live and work in Italy, and who were formative in the development of the late Renaissance styles there, and he was also one of the most prominent mid-century composers of madrigals.


Current research has established his birthplace as Ronse (Renaix), a town in Flanders right on the linguistic boundary between the French- and Flemish-speaking areas. Little is known about his early musical training, though some research has suggested a connection with Margaret of Parma, who went to Naples in 1533 to marry into the Medici family. Rore may have accompanied her, receiving some education in Italy; alternatively, he may have received his early musical education at Antwerp. It has long been claimed that he studied in Venice with Adrian Willaert, and sang in the chapel there, but there is little evidence to support this; then again, a singer in that early period at St. Mark's would not necessarily have left much evidence. In 1542 he was at Brescia, where he probably remained until 1546; during this period he began to acquire fame as a composer, publishing a book of madrigals and two books of motets, which were highly regarded.

In 1547, he entered in the service of duke Ercole II d'Este in Ferrara as choir master. Giaches de Wert was one of his pupils there, as was Luzzasco Luzzaschi, the leading member of what was to be one of the most avant-garde musical establishments in late Renaissance Italy.

When Ercole died in 1559, Rore offered his services to his successor Alfonso, but the new duke refused and appointed Francesco dalla Viola instead.

From 1560 until 1563, Rore worked for Margaret of Parma in Brussels and for her husband Ottavio Farnese in Parma. In 1562 he was appointed choir master of St. Mark's in Venice, but he resigned in 1564 and returned to Parma, where he died.

Works and influence

While Rore is best known for his Italian madrigals, he was also a prolific composer of sacred music, both masses and motets. Josquin was his point of departure, and he developed many of his techniques from the older composer's style. In addition to five masses, he wrote around 80 motets, many psalms, secular motets, and a setting of the St. John Passion.

It was as a composer of madrigals, however, that Rore achieved enduring fame. He was by far the most influential madrigalist in the middle of the 16th century. He wrote over 120, in a total of ten separate books, published between 1542 and 1565; other madrigals were published separately. They are mostly for four or five voices, with one for six and another for eight; the tone of his writing tends toward the serious, especially as contrasted with the light character of the work of the early madrigalists such as Jacques Arcadelt and Philippe Verdelot.

In addition, Rore experimented with chromaticism, which was to become a mid-century trend. He was a sophisticated contrapuntist, and used canonical techniques, imitation, and indeed all the resources of polyphony as they had developed in the early 16th century in the service of setting secular texts. The influence of Rore's style is evident in the work of Lassus, Palestrina, Philippe de Monte, and even as late as Claudio Monteverdi. According to Alfred Einstein, writing in The Italian Madrigal (1949):

Rore's true spiritual successor was Monteverdi. Rore holds the key to the whole development of the Italian madrigal after 1550.

Rore also composed secular Latin motets, a relatively unusual "cross-over" form in the mid-16th century, which paralleled the sacred madrigal, the madrigale spirituale. Stylistically these motets are similar to his madrigals.

References and further reading

pl:Cypriano de Rore


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